Russian President Vladimir Putin had a broad range of updates on Moscow’s foreign policy and relations with major world players as he spoke to international media on the last day of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China.
Moscow and Ankara are working on restoring their ties, which deteriorated last year after a Russian jet on a mission in Syria bombing Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) was brought down by Turkey near the Syrian-Turkish border. “The main thing is that the basis to restore full-scale cooperation has been created, including the Turkish leadership’s appeal to us, with their apologies in regard to those tragic events,” Putin told reporters in China.
'Quite positive': Putin & Erdogan discuss Syria and Turkish Stream at G20 summit https://t.co/NWg4nxbGoj
— RT (@RT_com) September 4, 2016
While Russia is awaiting the results of the investigation into the plane’s downing, work is in progress to rebuild bilateral relations, Putin said, adding that it might not be as fast as desired by the Turkish authorities. “When you break something, it’s always quick, but rebuilding things is always more difficult and demands certain procedures,” the Russian leader said.
The Syrian crisis topped the agenda at Vladimir Putin’s meeting with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20, the Russia president said, adding that he felt real interest and concern from his American counterpart in finding solutions in Syria.
“It was mainly the two of us who had the discussion, going into detail. I think we have reached mutual understanding,” Putin told reporters, adding that Moscow and Washington may reach an agreement on resolving the Syrian crisis shortly.
Moscow always welcomes any contact with the US, according to the Russian leader, who said that Washington is one of Russia’s key partners in a number of fields, including international security. He highlighted the countries’ “collaborative effort in fighting terrorist organizations, including the ones in Syria.” Putin also said that Moscow welcomes the renewal of full-scale relations with Washington, but for progress to be made the US should lift its sanctions implemented in connection with the Ukrainian crisis.
Asked about Russia’s relations with Japan, Putin said that he has recently been in talks with the Asian country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and that these may pave the way for further dialogue not only in the economic, but also in the political sphere. Creating a comfortable environment for working on a number of issues is important, the Russian president stressed, adding that it may lead to a peaceful agreement on the issue of the disputed islands in the Pacific.
Putin also referred to the 1956 treaty, according to which the USSR was ready to pass two of the Kuril Islands to Japan. Yet, after it was ratified, Tokyo ignored the agreement. Currently, the dispute is not off the table, the President said.
Talking about the prospects for cooperation between Moscow and London, the Russian leader said the Kremlin is “ready to restore relations with the UK and go in this as far as they want us to.” While Russia is ready to work on the matter, Putin said that British Prime Minister Theresa May had just taken office and “needs to deal with domestic issues.”
“Of course we are not going to impose anything, and we don’t need to, as we can’t decide for them to what extent the relations may be restored,” Putin said. The two nations have previously had disagreements, but there have also been historical events that unite the countries and shall not be forgotten, the president added.
‘We don’t interfere in Saudi-Iranian relations, but oil prices should be fair’
At the press conference, the Russian leader also stressed the importance of international cooperation on the oil market. Russia and Saudi Arabia, as the world’s top oil producers, are in talks on cooperation to support the market, Putin said. Yet, the main issue is Iran’s aim to increase oil output to reach its pre-sanction market share, the president said, adding that he finds it only fair.
— RT (@RT_com) September 5, 2016
“We know about special relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but we try not to interfere,” he said.
It is unfair is the current oil price, Putin said, but added that Moscow can deal with it. “We wish it were a little higher, but all in all we are OK with it,” he said.
On China: ‘We support Beijing’s position on not recognizing The Hague tribunal’s ruling’
Asked about Russia’s position on the South China Sea dispute, the president said Moscow supports Beijing’s stance on the issue, “and not politically, but juristically.” The Hague arbitration court should have listened to and considered arguments of the disputing sides, but it hadn’t considered China’s views, Putin said.
The dispute over the South China Sea involves rival territorial claims from China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. In July, China refused to recognize The Hague tribunal’s ruling in favor of the Philippines – the position that Russia supports, according to Putin. Adding that Chinese President Xi Jinping has never asked him to comment on the matter, the Russian leader said that any non-regional interference into such issues was only harmful.
Putin also thanked China for hosting the G20 summit, praising its organizational efforts and the results of agreements that have been achieved following its numerous meetings. China has put its soul into preparing and hosting the international event, Putin said, adding that it has been “beautiful – the way the Chinese can do it.”